I was thinking about this recently . . .
As Catholic Christians, there is, on our part, no denying that God can order us to kill innocent human beings, and that we are obliged to carry out these orders if and when they are given to us. The Old Testament is filled with examples of this.
Now, flash forward to the Holy Father’s infamous Regensburg address, where he quoted a Byzantine emperor as follows:
Show me just what Mohammed brought that was new, and there you will find things only evil and inhuman, such as his command to spread by the sword the faith he preached. . . . God is not pleased by blood - and not acting reasonably is contrary to God’s nature. Faith is born of the soul, not the body. Whoever would lead someone to faith needs the ability to speak well and to reason properly, without violence and threats . . . To convince a reasonable soul, one does not need a strong arm, or weapons of any kind, or any other means of threatening a person with death . . .
Now, I don’t believe, as a matter of history, that God actually did command Muhammad to spread the true religion by the sword. (Orthodox Islam teaches that God did so command, but I believe Muhammad was delusional, or just wicked.)
However, what if Muslims are right to believe as they do? Is this belief really irrational? Isn’t it theoretically possible that God could command his followers to so spread the true religion, and if He did so, doesn’t God have every right to, since He is soverign over life and death?
I don’t know the answer to this question, and am not so sure that the Byzantine emperor’s criticism of Islam could not apply just as equally to the Judeao-Christian belief that God has, throughout the course of history, commanded His followers to put to the death innocent men, women, and children after having laid seige to several cities (cf. the Old Testament).